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Arabidopsis Thaliana: Biology’s Model Organism
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Arabidopsis Thaliana: Biology’s Model Organism

Arabidopsis Thaliana is one of the many key organisms that biologists use to study development, gene expression, gene regulation, and plant genomics. This small plant has no economic value to scientists; however, this does not mean that it is unfunctional. The genome of this plant was the very first to be sequenced, helping biologists compose a model for plant genome architecture and evolution.

Indigenous to the countries of Europe, Asia and northwestern Africa; Arabidopsis Thaliana is a winter seasonal plant. Giving an estimated life cycle of six weeks in total, starting out with a dominant diploid stage containing two sets of chromosomes one from each parent. The haploid number then doubles making the condition be known as 2n. The height of this plant can be up to 10 cm, allowing biologists to create an abundant amount in such a short amount of time. The main central stem of the Arabidopsis Thaliana takes an estimated of three weeks to grow to its mature state. The flowers will either then self-pollinate or be manually crossed with each other. Thanks to the work of Gregor Mendel; the investigation of mutations through crossing can now be observed and analyzed in the labs. Cross pollination is easy to accomplish within the labs due to the removal of the “undehisced” anthers. The pollinated flower will then breed a long pod with an abundant amount of seeds inside. Biologists favor this amount of seeds in order to begin their research for rare mutants and other events, making this plant a very useful tool in the ideas of a model organism.

Biologists found it easy to extract the sequence even though they were working with a genome size of 125 Mb (megabase pairs). In comparison with other plants, Arabidopsis Thaliana is one of the many plants to have a small genome size. With such a small size and quickened life cycle, this plant once again gives evidential support as to why it is advantageous for being a model organism is research.

Plant transformation is a genetic engineering technique that has become routine to the Arabidopsis Thaliana plant. Transformation is defined as the directed modification of a genome by the external application of DNA from a cell of different genotype. This technique usually occurs naturally in some species or it could be artificially induced. In one of the many techniques of plant transformation, biologists begin this procedure by cutting the plant tissue into small pieces and soak them for an estimated ten minutes in Agrobacterium. Agrobacterium is a genus of Gram-negative bacteria that uses horizontal gene transfer to cause tumor like growth in plants. Within that ten minute time frame, the cells near the cut will transform due to the presence of the bacterium; the DNA in the bacterium will insert itself into the cell. The plants will regrow on a rooting and shooting media. This technique is a simple and easy procedure to follow, however many of the plants are not transformable by this certain method. In result, biologists use other methods, such as: the particle bombardment method, electroporation, or viral transformation.

Arabidopsis Thaliana has been a great contribution to the world of science is aspects of functioning as a key model organism for plants. We know understand genetic development, expression and regulation. This plant has a chance for the study of evolution and adaptation.


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